Trace Minerals are Critical for Optimal Horse Health
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Trace Minerals are Critical for Optimal Horse Health

Trace minerals are minerals found, and required for optimal health, in only very small amounts in a horse’s diet. Because they are generally found only in small amounts, they are often deficient when a horse is being fed hay only, with no additional supplements. It is therefore critical that these trace minerals be made available to a horse for the metabolic processes of which they are key components.

Here are examples of the critical functions of the trace elements supplied as a part of Dr. Thornley’s™ Hay Balancer™:


Zinc is critical to cellular division and synthesis of the proteins required for creation and repair of hoof, bone and skin tissue. It also is important for the health of reproductive tissue, and strongly contributes to a horse’s immune system functions. Along with other trace minerals, zinc also supports wound healing.


Copper is important for the formation and repair of the soft connective tissues in a horses body. These include tendons, ligaments and the cartilage that lines joints. It also plays a key role in the production and maintenance if skin tissue, and, interestingly, hair pigment. In fact, some horses’ coat appearance will drastically improve when they begin receiving sufficient copper levels in their diet where it was once deficient.


Manganese offers strong support for the development of the skeletal structure, especially in fetuses and growing horses, as well as the ongoing maintenance of bone matrix. It also plays important roles in reproductive health, immune system functions, and wound healing.


About 70% of the iron in a horse’s body is responsible for getting oxygen to the cells. It is at the heart of the hemoglobin and myoglobin molecules, which are responsible for oxygen transport in the blood. Iron deficiency can result in anemia, to which young horses can be particularly susceptible.


Just as in humans, iodine is a critical component of thyroid hormones, the hormones that regulate the basal metabolism of a horse. Insufficient iodine can result in an overactive thyroid gland trying to make-up for a lack of thyroid hormones, which causes an enlarged thyroid, or goiter. Iodine deficiency can also result in poor reproduction and higher susceptibility to infections


Although selenium is only required in very small amounts in a horse’s diet, it is arguably the most commonly deficient trace mineral for horses and other livestock. A majority of the states in the U.S. have areas of significant selenium deficiency. Selenium aids in the removal of toxic substances in cells, as well as proper thyroid function.